Congressman John Conyers saw himself to the door on Tuesday when he resigned amid a swirling storm of sexual misconduct allegations. Even his fellow Democrats, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were urging him to step down.
“Zero tolerance means consequences — for everyone,” Pelosi stated, “No matter how great the legacy, it’s no license to harass or discriminate.”
Conyers was the longest-serving member of Congress.
We do not know if the allegations are true or not, but Conyers is maintaining his innocence.“This too shall pass,” he added, “And I want you to know that my legacy will continue through my children.”
Aiming to help that process along, Conyers endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him, setting up a potential Conyers-family showdown for the seat, as the lawmaker’s great-nephew, Ian Conyers, told The New York Times recently that he also plans to enter the race.
Conyers’s remarks — at times rambling and ambiguous — led to some initial confusion about his immediate intentions. Prodded by Gaddis, he finally revealed that he’s “retiring today.” Moments later and miles away, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) went to the House floor to read a “retirement” letter from Conyers, in which he lamented “not being afforded the right of due process” while citing his declining health — but not the harassment charges — as the reason he’s bowing out.
“I recognize that in this present environment, due process will not be afforded to me,” Jackson Lee read aloud.
Several hours later, Conyers filed a letter of resignation with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who had requested such action last week, ending one of the longest congressional careers in the history of the country. The one-sentence letter gave no explanation for his stepping down.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), had privately urged Conyers to resign even before Pelosi’s announcement, warning Conyers directly that his situation would be likely “to get worse” if he remained in place to fight the charges.
“I spoke to him, and I said to him, … ’I think it’s in everybody’s best interest if you were to step aside,’” Clyburn said, “He’s doing what I asked him to do, so it’s fine with me.”